Ever since the Atlanta Falcons traded up to select Julio Jones back in 2011, the 24-year old wideout has been the talk of the town.
He is big, strong, fast and has already established himself as a legitimate number one receiver in this league. However, as good as Jones has been, is he even the number one option on his own team?
That’s right. He may be 31-years old now, but there is no doubt that Roddy White has been one of the best receivers over the past six years. And while his teammate has been awesome through his first two professional seasons, is Julio really the better fantasy option at wide receiver? I mean, sure. Julio is younger, more athletic and a bit more enticing for fantasy owners, but Roddy just continues to produce year after year. According to Fantasy Calculator, Julio’s current ADP is 2.09, compared to Roddy’s 3.10. Between that gap, there are five wide receivers ahead of White. Can we really say that Julio is already that much better than White when it comes to fantasy?
I’m not sold.
Let’s take a look at the numbers. Since 2007, White has posted stat lines consisting of the following:
Each of those seasons, he has finished no worse than the 15th best fantasy wide receiver in fantasy land. You really can’t compete with his consistency. Since 2007, he hasn’t posted less than 130 targets, so quarterback Matt Ryan is clearly looking for him. In fact, Roddy finished the 2012 campaign with more targets than Julio. Also, throughout his nine-year career, White has yet to miss a game, which speaks volume about his fantasy safety. To put that into perspective, Julio has missed more games in just 2011 (3) than White has missed in his entire career. Yes, when healthy, Julio is without a doubt the more deadly of the two. He will be the go-to guy on the long ball, right?
Not so fast.
Last season, White saw 19 targets of balls traveling 20 yards or more, compared to Julio’s 22. The gap isn’t that significant to automatically say that Julio is 100 percent the main deep threat in the Atlanta passing attack. We also saw the odd home/road splits between the two wideouts. At home, Julio caught 31 balls for 447 yards and two touchdowns. On the road, he was much better, catching 48 passes for 751 yards and eight scores. White was a bit more consistent with his splits, catching 45 balls for 662 yards and four touchdowns at home, while snagging 47 balls for 689 yards and three scores away from the Georgia Dome. Just more evidence that White is one of the most consistent receivers in the game.
While Julio may be the sexier, more enticing guy to target in fantasy drafts, there is something to say about how productive White has been and will continue to be. Jones has been awesome for his first two seasons, but it has been just that; Two seasons. There simply isn’t enough sample size to declare him the better receiver in that offense. Why draft Jones at the end of the second round when you can grab the trustworthy White a full round later?
The same thing goes for a guy like Dez Bryant, who is being drafted as the number four wide receiver. Dez hasn’t showcased too much through his short career, but it’s all about upside. I think fantasy owners often overlook how consistently good White has been because it hasn’t been flashy or anything like that. The fact that he is in his 30’s doesn’t help either, but there is no doubt that White deserves to be considered a top-10 fantasy wideout… at least.
For more in-depth analysis on this similar topic, check out JJ Zachariason’s post at Pro Football Focus.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.